Social Bar & Grill
The Peachtree Plaza is situated on Princess street, sandwiched between two hotels, and near the well travelled intersection at Sir John A. Years ago it was home to a Kelsey’s, which closed down approximately two years ago to make way for the Pabellon Gastropub. Although the Pabellon Gastropub was only open for a short time, it earned a solid reputation and subsequently its closure disappointed many local foodies. This past Fall, Social Bar & Grill (no relation to the resto of the same name in Ottawa) opened up in its place. While I have not heard much about this place, the few reviews provided by friends and colleagues were positive so we decided to give it a whirl.
Those who detest the challenge of finding parking downtown will be happy to hear that there is plenty of parking available at Social, and surrounding the Peachtree Plaza. At the entrance to the restaurant there is a massive patio that looks onto this busy section of Princess Street, that will certainly fill up when Summer arrives. Inside, save for the paint colours, not much has changed since the days when Kelsey’s occupied the space. There are a good number of private booths, larger tables and a decent sized bar area with a few TVs. All and all, it’s very open and clean, while the lighting offers a hint of intimacy.
Regular readers should know that I am on a personal quest to taste all of the Caesar salads in Kingston. This of course has yielded some great salads, some okay, and a few not worth mentioning. Social’s version ($6.95/small) includes: crisp romaine hearts, maple bacon, foccacia crostini, and parmesan shards, while it falls in the okay category as mine had a touch too much dressing, and the foccacia crostini were simply fancier bits of Melba toast acting as croutons. Marks were definitely earned for presentation, and the whole strip of crispy bacon that came on top. Our second teaser was the fish tacos, a dish I’ve always wanted to try but had never had the opportunity. These were not what I expected, as the only thing “taco” about them were the tortillas and jalapenos. A pair of fish tacos ($11.95) at Social come filled with tempura battered haddock and spicy yogurt, which is topped with pico de gallo salsa. I would both recommend and try these again, however I’m curious as to whether their take on fish tacos is traditional or otherwise unique. Other starters at Social Bar & Grill include: popovers, phyllo wrapped confit of duck, ginger beef and a handful of various salads.
I had a hard time picking what my main course would be as Social’s “after 5pm” dinner options were rather pricey (ie Mushroom crusted halibut ($33.95), Striploin ($29.95) etc…). While I don’t mind paying a little bit more for great food, I didn’t plan on spending $30 for a main course. Instead, I selected a half rack of their pork side ribs (22.95/full rack, or $16.95/half rack), which are slow braised, then grilled with homemade BBQ sauce and served with house cut fries & chef’s daily vegetables. I quite enjoyed the tangy sauce, Social’s homemade fries and the overall portion of the meal offered fair value. Even so, I wasn’t a big fan of the cut of meat, which should have been trimmed more to get rid of excess fat. Further, the daily veggies were tough to enjoy as they were bitter, and served luke warm. Other main menu items at Social include: Cajun Flatiron Steak, Chicken Supreme, Grilled Salmon, and a few different pastas.
My adventurous dining companion went out on a limb and ordered the Turkey Club ($13.95) a triple decker toasted sandwich, packed with sliced oven roasted turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato. Similar to the ribs, the clubhouse sandwich was a generous portion for the price. Only constructive criticism would be to offer this with real sliced turkey vice what you can buy at the grocery store, put some cheese on it, and refrain from using plastic toothpicks. All of Social’s sandwiches and burgers come with your choice of homemade chips, fries, green salad or caesar salad. The other varieties of sandwiches and burgers on the menu include: prime rib panini, vegetarian panini, tomato basil prosciutto panini, grilled cheese, cuban chicken and a build your own burger option.
All and all, my experience at Social was passable but I’m not sure how soon I will be back. On the plus side, this new addition to Kingston’s dining scene certainly offers decent value, variety and will appeal to those who find parking downtown to be a hassle. On the downside its location might also be a downfall as proven by the closures of Social’s predecessors.
14 thoughts on “Social Bar & Grill”
I did try social awhile back when they offered a Groupon ( could of been wagjag) promotion. First let me say about Groupon deals. I use them to try new place and then return or not return based on the outcome. I will say the food was pretty good However, the service was terrible. I seemed like i was cast aside and i was service only if now one else required service. One small group was attended to three time before i was . Oh yes, same waitress. Becuase of that it was my first and only visit
Regarding you comment about the challenges of parking downtown: Really? It's not that bad. I guess having lived elsewhere helps, because it's really weird how Kingston people just can't get over it.
Fully agree with you there, and as someone who lives downtown I rarely have a problem finding a place to park because I'm not forced to do so. The odd time I have to pop in somewhere, the worst case scenario is that I've had to circle a block or walk a few extra. In any case, parking is something that gets brought up here a great deal so that's really why I made that comment.
Parking location is not too bad – if it is not directly in front of were i go it is usually close to parking in a mall parking lot. The problem i have with parking are the bi-law officers that must be on a bonus system. Actual example was a parking ticket given to me 11 min before expire with the bi-law officer being fully aware of it ( ticket was issued at 16:20 pay display expired 16:31 . The parking ticket had in its NOTE field ( i still have it as a reminder) EXP PND 1880 0431PM 1590 DF4 . Mind you i did not notice that right away. What i did i raced to city hall and went in the basement where you pay tickets with 3 min of parking time reaming i placed both the pay and display and they ticket on the counter and told the clerk " what is wrong with this" What he left in the note field shows that this was not a mistake. This is not the only incident
I don't get the deal with parking downtown either. Friends visiting from another city couldn't believe we could leave our car parked for free overnight on a Saturday night in a downtown lot. And during the week, you walk a few blocks and can park for free too.
Back to the topic, tried Social a few months ago. Great food, nice variety of choices on the menu. We also had the fish tacos as an app. Service was decent. The prices are quite high though given the location and the type of customers I saw. We looked at the menu online before we visited, so knew what to expect, a bit of an upscale grill type menu. But someone from the neighbourhood expecting a family style restaurant might be a little dismayed at the prices.
Parking in downtown is fine, it's the people who won't walk a few blocks who are the problem. I'm sorry someone has taken the one solitary parking space in front of the place you would like to go, I really am! I know it is yours by birthright. Hop on your damn mobility scooter, as if the good lord didn't give you legs for any other reason than to slap your fat feet against the gas pedal.
Pro: the food was excellent, and there was Strongbow cider
Con: It took 40 min for our 2 hamburgers to arrive. After we finished eating the waitress took our plates but didn't ask if we wanted dessert – I had to ask for coffee and another beer for my husband. As the night worn on (we were there to listen to the entertainment) the wait straff was more interested in talking amongst themselves than serving – we had to track down the staff for addition coffee and drinks. This was on a night where it was not busy.
We won't go back to eat – we might return to hear certain local entertainers.
sounds like what happened to me . Perhaps it was not a Groupon thing
I neglected to mention the wait staff, but come to think of it they weren't that attentive to us either. We weren't quickly greeted at the door, so we sort of took our own seats. The delivery of menus etc… was good, but the follow up (ie do you need anything, how do things taste etc…) was lacking. Similar to you, the place wasn't packed, and there were more than 2 servers on the floor.
Ironic – Calling the place Social when they are not
I have been to the Social a number of times, and I like their Cuban chicken sandwich and their burgers. I was not impressed with the fish tacos; when you order fish tacos at a Mexican restaurant that carries them, it's unbreaded chunks of fish, with fresh salsa and pico de gallo and cilantro, etc. Not breaded fish patties…
I love their homemade chips.
I've had no qualms with the service, but I must admit, I've only eaten seated at the bar, and once, at a group function, in the area behind the bar, at the back.
Apparently this place is now closed. There were some cryptic messages placed on the marquee, and staff were emailed at 2 AM telling them not to come into work. I think it's time they find a non-restaurant for this location :)
I saw the messages as someone had posted photos on Facebook. Very strange indeed. Anyone have an idea as to what he was referring to?
I do not believe that is the location . If the food and service is excellent business will follow. There are a number of people that indicated that service needed improvement. This was probably their downfall. BTW regarding location bad for a restaurant, the same was said regarding the sushi place at the Frontenac Mall and it is still around